Things we find inspiring: Waste Land Documentary

Sep 18, 2019 | Findings

It is impossible to remain indifferent to this extraordinary experience conducted by Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist. The “Waste Land” documentary confronts us with the harsh reality of waste pickers who collect recyclable materials to earn a living in the largest landfill in Latin America – Jardim do Gramacho -, 13 km away from Rio de Janeiro.


The “Waste Land” documentary (2010) shows how these people survive in inhumane conditions. It brought the attention of Vik Muniz, who was not indifferent to it. He hired six collectors (from the official 1.600) and worked with them in what would later be their portraits. They builted huge scale photographs using the materials they themselves collected.


The result is overwhelming! It brings awareness to a serious problem affecting the population of that area, close to Rio de Janeiro. It also made possible to donate the money acquired on an auction, from the series of photographs of these art installations, to the Association of Waste Pickers.

More than human dignity, this documentary reveals the despair of Jardim do Gramacho’s community and also their strength and resilience. The colectores show us that, one’s trash is someone else’s wealth and that also says a lot about a society. Vik Muniz and his team have built, through art, a social exercise. And that’s inspiring.


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